History is made: first registration certificates for trademarks filed online are issued
For many years, Nigeria operated a manual trademark application system whereby all applications were filed by agents or trademark owners directly with registry officials, on a face-to-face basis.
The entire registration system, from the point of filing to the issuance of the registration certificate, was handled manually, which slowed down the registration process - with many applications taking as long as 10 years to be completed.
On July 9 2012, in a bid to improve the trademark registration system, the new registrar introduced an online filing/e-filing system. This new system allows accredited proprietors and/or agents to file their trademarks via an online filing portal belonging to an information technology company called Novasys.
The system was accepted by many, but was also widely criticised. Some took a suspicious stance, wondering how the system would work in the Nigerian environment, where a large number of processes are human-based.
As if to prove the critics wrong, the first Trademarks Journal for marks filed online was issued on March 25 2013, and on September 10 2013 a second journal was published. The publications of two journals in the space of a year proved not only that the system was working, but also that it was here to stay.
Finally, in May 2014 the first set of registration certificates for trademarks filed online was issued. The news was welcomed warmly, as it became apparent that the Trademarks Registry had made history. The old system - which had been in use since the inception of the Trademarks Registry - was thus changed, for the better, in the space of only two years.
Uwa Ohiku and Odunayo Ayorinde, Jackson Etti & Edu, Lagos
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